My Windows PC locked up again at the weekend. Followed by another 12+ hour RAID rebuild. So I’m done with it.

I waited for the rebuild, split the mirror, then installed SyncToy, some little Microsoft program that will automatically sync directories, like rsync on Linux, but with a GUI. It has to be run manually (or scheduled to run periodically in the background), but it seems far more robust than Windows RAID. And, even if one disk dies, at least I have a recent backup on the second, rather than an unreadable broken RAID.

I’m just appalled to see that a bloated multi-billion-dollar corporation can’t even get something as simple as RAID mirroring to work competently.

President of the Philippines calls the President of America a “son of a whore”, and says they’ll be “wallowing in the mud like pigs” if the President of America disrespects him.

President of America, supposedly the most powerful man in the world, gets in a huff and goes to Korea instead.

Can anyone imagine that happening with a real President, like Reagan? Back then, the Philippines cared what America thought about it. Apparently not any more.

The Chinese leaders must be laughing their ass off.

What moron decided to switch a LAPTOP screen to portrait mode with an arcane key combination? Particularly one that’s RIGHT NEXT TO CTRL+ALT+DEL?

What possible reason I would have to switch a laptop to portrait mode, when the freaking keyboard is attached to the bottom of the screen? All it achieves is to leave people wondering ‘WTF just happened?’ and trying to figure out how to use the mouse sideways so they can open a web browser to return the screen to the right damn orientation.

Hint for anyone who found this through Google: its CTRL+ALT+Arrow keys.

I so hate the tabletization of computing. And I absolutely despise Windows 10. There’s a reason our last remaining Windows machines run XP and Windows 7.

When I ran out of space on the main drive of my Windows video editing machine, I thought it was probably time I should install a RAID to put the video files on, so I wouldn’t lose them if the disk failed. I bought two 4TB drives, set them up as software RAID, and off it went.

Problem is, Windows software RAID is absolutely worthless.

In Linux, if there’s a power failure, or the machine locks up, or something that requires the machine to shut down unexpectedly, the RAID is usually OK. If the OS was actively writing to the disk, it will probably have to resync, but otherwise it’s already synced and continues as normal.

But not in Windows.

Microsoft decided that any kind of unexpected shutdown would make the RAID resync. Doesn’t matter that nothing has written to it for six hours, if it wasn’t cleanly shut down, you’re SOL.

And, no, when it starts resyncing, it won’t remember where it got to last time and continue after you reboot. Every single time you boot with an unsynced RAID, it starts over from scratch, even though it can’t possibly complete unless you’re going to leave the machine on all day.

So, any kind of power outage… and it’s nine hours waiting for the RAID to resync. Any kind of OS lockup… and it’s nine hours waiting for the RAID to resync. Given we don’t have the best power here, and Windows locks up now and again, the RAID in my machine has been unsynced far more often than it’s been synced. I get a power outage on Wednesday, and I have to leave it to the weekend

So that’s it for RAID on Windows. I’m scrapping the whole idea and buying a NAS running a real OS that I can just back everything up to manually.

WTF were Microsoft thinking when they designed this piece of crap?

Finally arrived only a bit over a month late. So far, it looks just like Android 5.1, except for a minimal set of permissions options for each app.

And the apps still seem to ask for just about every permission available.

So, rumour has it that anyone who installed the 5.1.1 update on their Nexus 7 is now unable to install Android 6.0, because Google pushed it without considering that they hadn’t pushed a version of Android 6.0 that was compatible with the updated 5.1.1. Now we have to wait for one that is.

If true… good one, guys. Very smart.

‘Out’ for three weeks… and still no sign of it on my Nexus 7.

Currently getting 400ms ping times to my wi-fi access point, and about 16k/second to my file server over my ‘150Mbps’ wi-fi connection. Plug in an Ethernet cable, and the ping is down to 0.25ms.

Remind me never to buy another laptop with Realtek wi-fi.

Bought one of these to get faster wi-fi, as the ISP wi-fi is only 2.4GHz 54Mbps (and rarely gets close to it). This means I can now use the ISP wi-fi as a ‘guest’ network that can’t access the other computers in the house, while the rest of us connect to the new router.

To avoid problems, I decided to use the same IP subnets on both routers. I assumed the router wouldn’t have any problem handling that, since it does NAT and both subnets are private. Oh, dear.

First time I plugged the Archer C7 into the ISP router, it went and got a DHCP address from the ISP router… and stopped working. No routing, no web page.

Turns out that it can’t handle having both WAN and LAN on overlapping subnets. Worse, when it does that, it resets its own IP address to the default, anyone using static IP configuration suddenly finds their gateway has vanished, and anyone trying to connect to the configured IP address finds it’s not there.

But it gets worse. You can’t even disconnect the WAN cable and reboot the router, because it PERMANENTLY changes the IP address back to the default. Before I realized what it was doing, I ended up resetting it to defaults and restoring the configuration backup I’d previously made (you did make a backup, right?)

Other than this peculiarity, which required me to change the IP address of pretty much every device on the LAN, and the fact that it routes private IP addresses in the first place, it seems to be working fine so far.

Spacesuit on barren landscape

Condemned cover

Finishing the first draft of the first book of a new SF adventure series. Should be out November or December, with any luck.

Lesbian Posed As Cancerous Latino Man, Accused of Sexual Assault With Strap On

So, I gave in a while ago, and replaced my Nexus 7 with an iPad Air 2. The Nexus was the second Android tablet, and the fourth Android device in the house, and it was pretty good while I used it. But I finally got fed up with a number of things.

1. Android’s security nightmare. The Nexus isn’t so bad, since Google ship updates themselves, but my Android phone had several security holes, and I’ve no idea which may or may not have been fixed, or which will ever be fixed, since they have to go through the manufacturer and phone company before they get to me. It’s still on Android 5.0, so who knows if there’ll be any more updates or whether it’s just been abandoned.
2. Android permissions. The ‘install or don’t’ permission model is completely and utterly broken, unless your goal is to let apps spy on your users. I’m heartily sick of every piece-of-crap app wanting every permission under the sun. Google even provided a more sensible permission model a few revisions back, then removed it. Maybe the next release will have one, maybe not. Google would rather rewrite the UI than implement one.
3. Rapid obsolescence. The Nexus was still on sale a year ago, and some sites are still selling it today. But seems like Google are going to abandon it with 5.1. Apple keep supporting old hardware until it’s no longer capable of running the latest OS.
4. Performance. The Nexus has several times the RAM and more CPU power than my girlfriend’s old iPad, yet it feels clunky in comparison. Java may have seemed a good idea for supporting lots of different devices, but it comes with some horrible performance problems.
5. Bugs. Some of the apps I use on a regular basis have become less and less usable with new Android releases, and one hasn’t even been updated since February. Those apps work fine on the iPad.
6. Storage. The Nexus has no SD card slot, and Google has made them useless, anyway. The apps I run that use a lot of space refuse to install on an SD card, and some that do allow you to install them there just crash if you try to run them. That’s not a great reason to switch to an iPad, because they don’t support SD cards at all, but I needed a device with more storage, so I’d have bought something else soon anyway.

So, I’ll keep the Nexus as a throwaway device when I’m travelling, when it won’t have anything particularly important on it. But, at home, I’ll be doing most tablety things on the iPad, instead.

Unless Google get their act together soon, they’re going to throw the mid-range of the mobile market to Microsoft, while Apple keep the high end.

Best movie I’ve seen so far this year. It’s based on a famous Heinlein short story, but adds some interesting ideas of its own. And the script is very clever, I’ve watched it three times and only just noticed some of the hidden meanings in the story. Like Fight Club, it’s also much funnier the second time through.

(So, anyone want to explain why WordPress randomly embeds Youtube videos, and randomly doesn’t?)

Smoke is everywhere today.

This is from the A118 dashcam, but edited and scaled down to 720P to improve upload times.

I’ve only had two problems with this dashcam so far:

  • Sometimes it just doesn’t record. It seems to happen when I start the engine after the dashcam has gone beep. If I start the engine as soon as the gauges have done their thing and gone back to zero, it seems to work fine. I’m guessing it can handle a startup power glitch while the capacitor is charging, but not once it’s booted up.
  • A couple of times, it’s said ‘Card Error’ and refused to record. When that happened, I just turned the ignition off, let it power down, and turned it back on. Then it recorded. This may be due to my accidentally pulling the USB cable from my laptop without thinking a few days ago, which could have corrupted the flash filesystem, as it exports the flash as a raw filesystem. In future, I think I’ll reformat the card every time I access it via USB, just in case.

Also have a temporary rear install, with a second camera. I’ll update on that later.

For installing the dashcam, I largely followed the method here, except I used a USB to Mini-USB cable, with a USB power adapter in the 12V socket:

A simple, non-hardwired dash cam install (B40/A118)

First step was to attach the camera to the windshield with the included double-sided tape, and I made the mistake of putting it on the passenger side. I thought that would prevent it from blocking my view, but it also meant the SD card slot is very hard to reach, as the mirror gets in the way. I had to use a pen to push the card in and out, and ejected it across the car a couple of times. Hence, the best solution was to leave it in permanently, and use the USB cable to copy videos off to my laptop on the few occasions when I need to download one.

Next step was to remove the cover over the windshield pillar. As mentioned in the linked post, you can just grab it in the middle and carefully pull it away. It’s attached more solidly at the bottom, but can be pulled out. Then it hangs from the pillar by a plastic cable, and I just moved it aside rather than disconnect that.

That done, I used a piece of plastic to push the cable into the roof of the car–there’s a hole behind the mirror which is just about the right size for the cable to go through–and along until it reached the pillar. Then dropped it down the hole between the speaker and pillar, and pulled it out into the passenger footwell through one of the holes at the bottom.

Cable installed down pillar.

About half the pillar is taken up by the side curtain airbag, and I didn’t want to risk having the cable interfere with that if it went off. So I used cable ties to attach it to the existing wiring that runs down the pillar. I managed to drop one of the cable ties and it fell down behind the airbag, but fortunately, after I poked it a couple of times, it fell down further until I was able to pull it out.

To reattach the cover, just push it back in at the bottom, then push the sides back into the pillar. Just be careful that the sides go inside the weather stripping on the door frame and not outside. I got a couple of inches at the bottom outside the weather stripping, and had to pull it out again.

Plug into centre console

Dashcam plug

I used the cable clips which came with the camera to run the cable across beneath the glove box, but that’s not really ideal, since there’s not much clearance for passengers’ feet, and they could easily kick it away. I think I’ll have to tape it up.

Then I ended up with about six inches of the ten foot cable left over to plug into the power socket. Just about enough to comfortably plug it into the laptop when I need to.

Dashcam on the windshield

After that, all I had left to do was attach the cable cover. The base was already stuck to the windshield, but the cover was difficult to fit as I’d left too much slack in the cable to the camera, and had to carefully push it in until the cover would actually fit. Since I don’t plan to detach the camera at any point, I should have only left enough cable up there to reach it, and the cover would have fit more easily.

Bought one of these, too, to record some of the crazy stuff the local drivers do around town:

I-Max 1.5″ LCD A118C Dash Cam

It installs easily, using double-sided tape to attach the camera and cable cover to the windshield. It then looks like a pre-installed camera to anyone outside the car, but I still have to hide the wires. I’m going to run a USB cable down to the power socket and used a USB power adapter there, so I don’t have to remove the SD card to get video off the camera, I can just plug it into my laptop and read the files directly.

This is the capacitor model, so there are no worries about the battery wearing out, but it takes a few seconds to start up. It beeps and starts recording before I’ve put on my driving glasses and shifted into drive, so not a big deal. The only real downside is that it doesn’t support parking mode, if someone hits the car in a parking lot.

I installed a Sandisk Ultra 64GB SD card, even though the manufacture claims it only supports 32GB. It was a bit tricky, as the camera initially rejected the card, but when I found the Format option hidden away in the menus I formatted it in the camera and it’s working fine so far. I just haven’t verified that it rolls over and deletes old files when it gets full.

Video images are pretty good in daylight. I haven’t tried it at night yet.

Note that I took this image the first day I had the camera installed, before I realized there’s a protective plastic film over the lens. Removing that eliminated the slight blurriness in places on the image:

Driving along the road

Scaled down video frame capture

Next exercise after I complete the wiring will be figuring out how to install another one at the rear for the moronic tailgaters. There’s a power socket, but, since the camera is attached directly to the windshield, it will either be pointed too low down at the back, or on top of the heated glass elements. There is quite a lot of adjustment on the lens, but I’ve got some thinking to do there.

Bought one of these recently, though I haven’t had much time to fly it yet. One problem I’ve had is that VLC on Linux won’t play the video files correctly from the SD card; I found this page which has a script to transcode and rescale them from their weird aspect ratio, and the files play fine afterwards:

Recoding H107D Videos

However, I did have to replace ‘ffmpeg’ with ‘avconv’ in the script, as it seems Mint no longer ships with ffmpeg, but uses a fork of the code.